Too many individuals are addicted to opioids of one type or another. Florida is widely known to have this issue, and we have done nothing about it.
Why is this a problem? Addiction is a sad thing for the individual who is under the control of the substance and for the individual’s family. Unfortunately, many of our pain-management practices have opened the door for individuals to fall into the trap of addiction. And when the pain pills are no longer an option, individuals many times turn to heroin to meet their addiction needs.
The Solution: There is no easy fix for this problem. What we need are steps toward the solution. The steps that would lessen this burden include:
1) Begin to prescribe pain management medication without the use of opioids when possible. There are situations that call for heavy-duty opioid prescriptions, but many times we have alternatives available that are not chosen. With the legalization of medicinal marijuana in the state of Florida, we will have an inexpensive and readily available alternative. We need to focus less on easily treating pain and more on properly treating pain. Once we have scaled back the use of opioids, thus helping to prevent new addicts, we can move on to the second measure.
2) Treat addicts as victims, not criminals. We all know that their use of opioids does not mean they are bad people. So why are they treated as such? Once we start to see them as victims of the drug, then we can begin to help them. Their “crimes” of being addicted should not come with jail sentences. Now comes step three.
3) Help them. We will have room in incarceration facilities for these individuals at this point, as we are no longer locking them up. This excess space can be utilized as a rehabilitation facility. If the individual chooses, it might be possible to create a rehab program in this already built and now unused facility space. If we can get the individuals clean, then we can get them back and contributing to society again, no longer a burden on the state.
Quick Takeaway: Opioid addiction is an issue in our state, and we need to treat the addicts as victims instead of criminals. Utilize alternative pain management medications to prevent future addictions.